russian cream — redefined ::::
My teenaged memories of working in a restaurant kitchen are replete with good food, though marred by the staff’s pervasive white male misogyny and extended adolescent behavior. I remember assholes commenting on the breast sizes of the waitresses or how effeminate the male waiters were, the owner being drunk most of the time, and his entitled daughter bringing her unfriendly dogs into the kitchen to “visit.”
To purge as much of this stain as possible, I reinvent or redefine the recipes I saved from that kitchen. I reconfigured the clam chowder (where I detail my teenaged summer kitchen experience much more eloquently — I still shake my head when I re-read it). I realized the sugar pie crust is no better than other recipes I have. I never found a chocolate mousse recipe that compares, but go more easy on the Bailey’s Irish Cream added. I still knead my bread dough like I learned to those many years ago in the unair-conditioned bakery room. I still crave the Russian Cream.
Until those summers at the restaurant, I had never heard of Russian Cream. It is simple perfection: there is tart and sweet, creamy and smooth, a star or support cast. It works in so many ways. The bitter grassiness of matcha is a nice pairing with that tart memory, erasing some of the misogyny and elevating the simple ivory creaminess to another level of flavor. When all the ingredients serendipitously appeared in my kitchen, I thought, Why not? It’s time to reinvent this wheel.
Here it is: Matcha Russian Cream, heady and bright, without a trace of misogyny.
One year ago: grapefruit and campari pâte de fruit
Two years ago: scallops with mexican corn salad (elote)
Three years ago: berry yogurt popsicles
- 1 envelope powdered gelatin (7 g or ¼ ounce)
- ½ cup cool water
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ⅔ to ¾ cup sugar (if you want a more tangy taste use less sugar)
- 1 cup (8 ounces) full fat sour cream
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
- 1½ tablespoons matcha, sifted, plus a bit more to sift for decoration
- In a small pot, combine the water and gelatin. Allow to stand one minute. Bring to boil, stirring in to help dissolve the gelatin. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you work on the next step.
- In another small pot, heat the cream and sugar over medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Watch carefully and do not boil. Stir to help dissolve; take off the heat. Allow to cool slightly.
- Stir gelatin-water mixture into the cream-sugar mixture. Sift matcha (again) over the liquids, whisking each time. You may have some clumps but they should be small after whisking. Allow to cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
- Put cooled mixture, sour cream, and vanilla into a blender. On VERY low speed so as to not create too many bubbles, blend until smooth. This step should take out the dark matcha clumps, if any remained from your previous step. You can also skip this and strain through a fine sieve for less agitation and bubble formation. It's okay if there are some dark spots, if you can get rid of them all.
- Pour into small, pretty cups and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to firm. Serve with a sprinkle of sifted matcha and a delicate spoon for each. I love the bitter contrast of the matcha sprinkled on top to the tangy sweet cream.